Brian Anthony Williams is an Emmy award winning
talk show, television actor and producer,
motivational speaker, best-selling author,
healthcare advocate, Naval intelligence officer
and person living with multiple sclerosis.
Montel has used his public platform to help find
a cure for MS and to shine a light on those
living with healthcare challenges. Montel sat
down with Editor-in-Chief Gary Barg to discuss
his thoughts on life and caregiving.
Gary Barg: We talk all the time about family members becoming what
we call “fearless caregivers,” partnering with a loved one’s care
team. What advice do you have for family caregivers if they are just
not comfortable with the care their loved one is receiving?
Montel Williams: This is something that just
blows me out the door and I’ve talked about it in every one of my
books. Just because you walk into a doctor’s office and he’s got a
shingle hanging on his wall that says doctor or Ph.D. from whatever
hospital, you automatically assume that he knows more about
everything on this planet than you do, and that’s just not true. If
doctors knew so much, none of us would be sick. So, the
truth-of-the-matter is doctors need to respect the patient and the
patient’s family 100 percent when he gets involved in the process of
caring for someone’s life. I feel very strongly that if a patient
doesn’t feel comfortable with their doctor or with the way he’s
respecting them, or that family doesn’t feel they are getting the
answers to questions they have asked or information that they need,
it’s time to change doctors; it’s just that simple.
GB: I always say about being a caregiver, “You can fire the
doctor, but they can’t fire you.”
That’s a fact. One of the things I’m really big on is making sure
that we take as much responsibility for our own care as we put in
the hands of doctors. Right now, the resources are there for us to
look up and read and try to understand, and you may not understand
every single one of the technical terms that are in a document
describing your illness, or the possible treatments for or the
probable prognosis, but you can at least get a feel for what they
are saying and this is why you should read every single thing you
can possibly get your hands on. I print out what I find so that I
can sit down with my doctors and ask them if they’ve heard about
this, and they might say, “No, we haven’t” and then they’ll look it
up; so now I know I have my doctors working for me, rather than me
working for them.
GB: I really enjoyed reading “Climbing Higher.” One of the
things I was taken with was the challenges of communicating with
your loved ones about living with MS. Was it hard to start these
kinds of conversations?